Written by Pooran Desai, founder of OnePlanet

In 2022, we saw COP27 come and go, almost three decades after COP1 in Berlin in 1995. 

What might 2023 bring?  

After a generation of concerted effort, will 2023 be the year when we see the shift in mindset and paradigm we need?  I believe there is a very good chance that it will be. Let me share why.

1.  It is impossible to ignore climate change any more

In the past two years we have seen clear signals that we are crossing climate tipping points.  This year, 2022, witnessed the floods in Pakistan displacing 33 million people, the world’s worst ever recorded heat wave in China, rivers drying up in Europe in the worst droughts for 500 years and the UK’s hottest ever recorded temperature.

2. A neutral or El Niño year may spike global temperature in 2023.

We have been in a La Niña period, cooling global temperatures.  If 2023 is a neutral or El Niño year it can cause global temperatures to spike, adding a layer of chaos on to already disrupted climate systems. This may mean that 2023 becomes the year when we experience our first truly global climate shock.  Such an event may trigger a completely new level of commitment to tackling climate change.

3. There is a tipping point in public concern.

Around the world, the underlying trend shows climate change is growing as a key concern among citizens.  The majority of people are now concerned and the percentages will grow in 2023.

4. The failure of COP27 shows we cannot rely on international agreement.

COP27 can in no way be seen as a success, but rather an admission of defeat on various fronts. With a recognition of the inability of international processes to deliver decisive action, we will see communities, regions and businesses accelerate their own responses.  Given increasing citizen concern, it will be easier for these actors to take action.

5. We face a polycrisis and we will need different ways of thinking to solve complex, interconnected problems. 

Climate change is only one crisis we face.  We face a biodiversity crisis, a crisis across six of the nine planetary boundaries, and an income and wealth inequality crisis.  None of these crises can be solved in isolation.

The Year of The Great Paradigm Shift

My prediction is that we will continue to recognise (as laid out in exquisite detail by Dr Iain McGilchrist) the deep limitations of the reductionist, materialist scientific paradigm on which the dominant modern Western culture is built and which is intimately linked to the existential crises we face today.  Instead, we will see a new paradigm gain strength with the rise of holistic systems science and joined-up thinking.  It will manifest physically as a change in the structure of our brains and the rightful return to dominance of the right hemisphere with this ability to see the big picture, with the left hemisphere as the useful servant, focussing on otherwise meaningless detail. 

And this change in thinking will enable the concept of a regenerative future to take centre stage where we act in diverse but interconnected ways to deliver on three shared outcomes – health of people, health of communities, and health of our planet.